Florida Could End Teacher Tenure, Embrace Merit Pay : NPR

“The Times They Are A’Changin’”

This is inevitable, folks. The teaching profession is going to be radically changed in the near future, and I am inclined to think it’s an overdo overhaul. Let’s look at a couple of the specific ideas bandied about in the article, because I’ve heard those same suggestions several times.

Merit Pay seems like an obvious one to me. This is the sort of thing that every job field should embrace: Be paid a living, base wage. Do well, be rewarded; do poorly, face sanctions. Makes sense.

Now, I understand why none of the unions and many current teachers would be resistant. If you’re not subject to merit pay now, why would you willingly embrace it? For the unions this would be a step backward in negotiation. I get it… I just don’t support the idea.

However, much could be said regard what constitutes appropriate metrics for rating teacher “merit.” I’m not one who thinks standardized testing is the be all and end all, but I believe that it can form a piece – perhaps even the centerpiece – of the overall student achievement picture. The notion of progress as opposed to raw score is already addressed.

Regarding tenure, I am undecided. Tenure is generally thought of as a reward, something earned by a teacher in response to their accomplishments and granted by a district in order to keep the teacher. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Now, I’ve heard stories of teachers who were inappropriately granted tenure and proceeded to spend the next two decades coasting to retirement. The problem in these cases, it seems, is not tenure itself, but the poor judgment that  granted tenure to these particular teachers.

On the other hand, guaranteed lifetime employment – unmerited tenure – isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. The Japanese, after all, managed to build a pretty strong economy around the idea. Now the U.S. doesn’t have the same work-culture as the Japanese, so I don’t mean to imply that the idea would necessarily work here. But it might. I’m just sayin’.

Florida Could End Teacher Tenure, Embrace Merit Pay : NPR.


2 thoughts on “Florida Could End Teacher Tenure, Embrace Merit Pay : NPR

  1. Merit pay is a really slippary slope. When I was a senior in High School I took most of my final exams with a six sided die. I did take the standardized tests at the time that way as well (It was a trial year and so “didn’t count”). Should my teachers be judged by that? What about the specials teacher who doesn’t have any standardized tests to give, how do they get their merit pay? The night before the tests, Johnny’s dog died and he really doesn’t feel like taking the test. Is that the teacher’s fault? Suzy on the other hand has been living off of crackers and ketsup all year because her daddy lost his job and refuses to get help from the government. She really hasn’t been interested in classes despite all your calls home and requests for confrences. Is that your fault? Mrs. Jones is a really well liked teacher and so all the parents request her for their kids and she gets the “best” kids in her room every year and therefore none of the “trouble” kids and is actually able to teach all year while Mr. Smith gets all the other kids and spends most of the time making sure kids are behaved and safe. Mr. Smith does help some of those kids in those areas, but not necessarily in the educational ones. Which teacher gets a merit bonus? Currently Ohio is revising all of their standards for their students. When they give the new revised tests, the students most likely will have a hard time and the state won’t recognise the fact it isn’t your fault. Do you expect to lose merit based on this?

    As for tenure, I totally disagree with it. If you aren’t doing the best and there are cuts to be made, you should lose your job. I had a job once and they had to cut staff down to two people. Instead of keeping the best person (that was not me btw), they kept the one who had the most seniority. No, it isn’t exactly tenure, but it is the same idea. What sense does that make? I am all about being loyal. I’m one of the most loyal people you’ll meet, but this is a business decision, not a personal one.

  2. Rantz,
    If I work in the private sector and I don’t accomplish the goals for which I was hired, then there I have some explaining to do. There may be legitimate reasons why, but there may also be a bunch of excuses. This is what performance reviews are for.

    Likewise, if I am employed to teach children yet those children do not learn, then I ought to have some explanations. I concede that there are a thousand factors – important factors – all beyond the teacher’s control. A good merit pay system, say one that uses “value added” as one component among several to measure teacher effectiveness, will take this into account. I don’t advocate replacing a poor system with a different poor system.

    As far as tenure, I think I see it very differently than you. It isn’t the same as seniority; and it isn’t a right or a gift. It is a non-financial reward that a teacher can earn. Prudent use of tenure could have a positive effect on student learning by generating loyalty and incentive toward a school. That’s what happened in Japan. For this to work, however, the tenured teacher must also among other things share in the risks associated with school-wide failure.

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